The Arctic Road Trip

As soon as I decided to move to Northern Finland last year, my plan for the summer holidays was to go on an Adventure in Northern Norway. After two recent short road trips to the Lofoten Islands and to Tromsø and the Island of Senja at the end of the winter, I had a better idea of what my summer plan would look like. I wanted to visit new locations, but also go back to the ones I saw in the winter so I could see how different they are in the summer.

4200 km across Finland, Norway and Sweden

Most of those places are in Norway: Magerøya in Finnmark, Tromsø and Senja in Troms and the Lofoten Islands in Nordland. But I also wanted to stop in Finnish Lapland, and go back to Swedish Lapland to do some hiking in Abisko National Park.

My own crew gathered for the trip, ready to work hard on our secret summer project. Here a behind the scenes of a failed photo session, towards the end of the trip, in Abisko National Park.

But now that I’m back in Oulu it feels like a photographic failure.

Don’t get me wrong, the trip was great. Despite the less than ideal weather conditions I had a blast in the land of the midnight sun. The weather has been particularly terrible while I was camping on the Lofoten Islands, but even with barely 10ºC, wind and rain, the place was still epic. And although the other places (even the island of Senja) can’t match the level of epicness of Lofoten, they’re among the most amazing places I’ve visited in Europe. But two things were a let down for me…

Playing in the Lofoten with a new friend acquired in the northernmost Toys R Us

First there were too many places to visit in a too limited amount of time. Too much driving. While I could drive all day along the Norwegian roads, it wasn’t compatible with working on my summer project.

Plundering the northernmost Burger King (between two showers).

Secondly the areas I visited previously were not as inspiring as they were in the winter. Don’t get me wrong, summer has its own charm. The absence of snow allows easier hiking in the mountains, it’s never dark and the nature is so abundant everywhere that it’s a paradise for toy photography. But there was something missing in the colors and the light that I found deeply inspiring during the winter and wasn’t there anymore.

Back in April when mountains were covered with snow…

The initial plan was to be done with shooting photos for the summer project once the trip would be over, in order to focus on post-processing now. But while I had a great time in the Far North, I didn’t made as much progress as I wanted.

T-Rap ready to photograph the midnight sun.

Overall I had one good photo session while enjoying the midnight sun, a few kilometers away from the northernmost point of Europe. But as I’m writing this I still haven’t really had time to sort the 800 pictures of minifigs I took there. (Plus the few other hundreds still waiting on my camera to be transferred on my hard drive.)

Enjoying the only opportunity to photograph the midnight sun at 71º07’18”N

While I should have enough material for at least the beginning of my story, I’m scared that I could have missed something… What if I need to go back to go back to a specific location to reshoot a photo? Or worse have to wait for a specific time of the year? Like next summer when the midnight sun will be visible again…

Only time will tell whether I’ll able able to complete the project before the deadline, or if it will require more time to mature for me too (pun intended).

Now it’s time to sort the photos and see which ones are usable and which ones are not. The next step will be about where (and when) to go to take the missing photos, but this is probably another story.

10 Replies to “The Arctic Road Trip”

  1. Awesome.

    This brings back memories to my own little roadtrip to cape north three years ago (https://www.stuckinplastic.com/2014/08/nordkapp/).

    I do recognize the feeling that early spring brings when there is enough light to explore the landscapes, still the air is still cold blue frozen and white mountains create a perfect backdrop. However, I am sure you got some epic images. I cant wait to see some of your images printed on glossy paper when we meet in Scotland. That T-Rap shot is just awesome !

    And talking about meeting up, we should maybe do a Xmas and New Year meetup in Cape North. The temperature is actually not that cold we were told and we can maybe catch some of that awesome Aurora Borealis in the twilight zone.

    Boris

    1. That would be super cool! Catching auroras is on my todo list this year and the challenge will be to include toys and see what can come out of it. But maybe Nordkapp is not that the best spot to see them? I’ve read that Abisko is kind of ideal because of the microclimate there that provide good probability of clear sky. That said… I’m most likely gonna have to go back to Belgium for the winter holidays :/

      1. Let’s research it a little bit more. When we were there, the cabin owner told us they had beautiful northern light as well. Would be awesome to combine that with HDR and light painting :)

        1. Not sure I would use HDR but merging different photos to expose the subject (a toy?) and the sky would be cool. I’ll probably start experimenting with that in September, if not next month if there’s some early light show in the sky :-)

  2. Too much driving on a 4200km road trip? Hmmm, I think I do have an idea as to why…
    I know that you’re always very critical when it comes down to your photos but in MY book:
    They’re lovely! Looking forward to the other hundreds of them;-)

    1. And that is not 4.2K of endless autobahn :)
      That is at least a good 2K of pure awesome driving pleasure throughout fjords and ocean views …

    2. It’s not really a matter of good or bad photos. I don’t think the photos I took are bad, but there’s not many of them. Two photo sessions with toys in 10 days is not much… For a comparison I’ve taken more photos on the previous 4-days trips than on this one. Hopefully summer isn’t over ;-)

  3. Great article and pictures. It reminds me of the time I road tripped from France to North Norway with my family. But it was so long ago, I definitely plan on going back to those beautiful landscapes at some point.

    1. You should it’s amazing, and maybe we can meet there too ;-) But in my opinion the best time to go is the end of the winter, when there’s still snow, ice on the beaches and longer days.

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